‘Get in, girl’: How Trump’s most rabid supporters are transforming GOP from ground up

It all started with “a Black male with a white shredding machine.”

Salleigh Grubbs got a call Nov. 20, 2020, from another volunteer election observer who saw a suspicious man with a box truck at an event center in deep-red Cobb County, Georgia. Her new friend Susan Knox was convinced he was shredding ballots to prevent the discovery of what they were both certain had been a fraud that cost Donald Trump the election, reported The Atlantic.

“Get in, girl,” Knox said, as the pair gave chase to the truck from A1 Shredding & Recycling Inc. “I’ve got a full tank of gas, and I just had the car washed.”

Grubbs reported the incident to police after they gave up on their search, but the operator told her they weren’t taking any election-related complaints and directed her to the secretary of state, leaving both women incredulous.

“I would think that the presidential election would be pretty much as important as anything in our country for a policeman in Cobb County to get over to Jim Miller Park,” Grubbs said.

The experience galvanized the 55-year-old Grubbs, who felt there was no way Trump could have lost the election, and within five months she became Cobb County’s Republican chair despite having no previous experience in politics at any level.

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“Salleigh was not an anomaly,” wrote Isaac Arnsdorf for The Atlantic. “She was part of a nationwide movement of Trump supporters who learned from their shortcomings in 2020 and organized to address them. In the version of history that took hold within the MAGA movement, the cause of Trump’s defeat that year was being narrowly thwarted at almost every step by fellow Republicans.”

“The clerk in Antrim County, Michigan, who said the incorrect vote tallies reported on Election Night were just an honest mistake, quickly fixed, was a Republican,” Arnsdorf added.

“[Brad] Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, who had refused Trump’s demand to ‘find 11,780 votes,’ enough to reverse the outcome, was a Republican. The board of supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona, that screened Trump’s calls and certified Joe Biden’s win was majority Republican.

“Trump failed to pressure every House Republican to object to the Electoral College votes on January 6, and he got only a handful of senators. Even Trump’s own vice president refused to help him block the official certification in Congress. As close as he got to keeping himself in power, Trump came up short only because of uncooperative members of his own party.”

But that motivated many of his supporters to take over their local GOP organizations from the ground up in a plot known as the “precinct strategy,” developed by Arizona lawyer Dan Schultz and promoted by Steve Bannon on his “War Room” podcast.

“The strategy has proved effective, in that it forced out Republicans who were anything less than completely faithful to Trump and his election denial, smoothing his path back to the Republican nomination — and perhaps all the way to the White House,” Arnsdorf added.

Grubbs and Knox testified at the state Capitol in December 2020 about what they’d seen at the event center, but legislators weren’t persuaded to call a special session to throw Georgia’s electoral votes to Trump, and Congress also declined to overturn the election results despite the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump left office a few weeks later and was eventually impeached for inciting the insurrection, and Grubbs took solace in Bannon’s podcast, where she heard an interview with Schultz and decided to set her sights on county GOP chair and easily won, which placed her on the radar as an exemplar of the precinct strategy and led to a phone call from a blocked number as she presided over her first committee meeting.

“Hello, Salleigh,” said a familiar voice over the phone. “This is your favorite president.”

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